Scholarship Honoring Lifelong Marine Science Enthusiast ‘Maggie’ Bains Established for Students Pursuing Marine Science Degree

Published: May 15, 2013

Scholarship Honoring Lifelong Marine Science Enthusiast ‘Maggie’ Bains Established for Students Pursuing Marine Science Degree

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Margaret “Maggie” Bains, a former lab assistant at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI), has been recognized for her years of dedication to marine science with the establishment of an endowed scholarship in her name.

Bains, who worked in the benthic lab studying samples of animals and plants living at the bottom of seas and lakes, found her second career with the HRI after more than 30 years of teaching in Texas public schools.

Beginning in fall 2014, the Margaret “Maggie” Bains Scholarship will be awarded annually to an HRI marine science graduate student continuing his or her studies.  Chapel in the Hills Interdenominational Church in Wimberley, Texas, where Bains has been a member for more than 30 years, collected $7,000 to establish the scholarship as a 90th birthday present to her. The HRI is contributing an additional $3,000 to create the endowment.

“I feel deeply privileged to have gotten to know so many excellent young researchers and graduate students who have worked in the labs at HRI,” said Bains. “It thrills me to know that this scholarship will help pass my love for marine science on to a new generation and help them acquire valuable knowledge about the Gulf of Mexico.” 

Margaret Lewis (Bains), who was born in Harlingen, Texas, in August 1922, earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Rice University in 1943. She met her future husband, Louis Bains, a U.S. Navy fighter pilot instructor, while working in the chemistry lab at Humble Oil. The couple moved to Corpus Christi where, for six months, he trained British pilots. After her husband was deployed to the Pacific, Bains returned to Houston and worked for Baylor Medical School conducting research on Relapsing Fever, an insect-borne disease that had recently killed a young Texas boy.

In 1945, when her husband returned and enrolled at the University of Texas to pursue an accounting degree, Bains took a position as a middle school teacher in the Austin ISD. She later gave birth to two daughters, and returned to teaching. While working and raising her daughters, she attended classes at Texas A&M University-Galveston, and in 1967, received her Master of Science in Marine Zoology. 

Bains spent four years in the Baytown, ISD, and taught for more than 15 years in LaPorte, Texas, before retiring in 1980 and moving with her husband to Wimberley, Texas. Following his death in 1996, she taught at an Elderhostel in Canyon Lake, Texas.

 In 2006, Bains became part of the HRI team, accepting a part-time job sorting Antarctic benthic samples in Dr. Paul Montagna’s benthic lab.  She retired again in 2011, but continues to be an active community member in Wimberley, Texas.

Montagna, Endowed Chair for Ecosystems and Modeling, says that in the short time she spent working with his benthic group, Bains had a tremendous impact on the success of the research program.

“Maggie is an inspiration to generations of marine biologists because her love of marine critters is so apparent and infectious,” said  Montagna. “It’s amazing to watch her spend hours staring into a microscope having fun doing what most would consider arduous labor.”